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Masterson gets closer; who start if Tribe earns wild card berth?

By Sheldon Ocker Published: September 14, 2013

CHICAGO: Head trainer Lonnie Soloff has a handle on Justin Masterson's schedule for at least the next week.

Masterson, recuperating from a strained oblique, will continue to play long toss for the better part of the week, but Soloff is optimistic that he can began throwing bullpens next weekend.

“”We want to be cautious at the beginning,’’ he said.

Presumably, Masterson would have to throw at least two bullpens before facing live hitters, probably in a simulated game or maybe two.

By that time, the regular season is likely to be over. But even if Masterson is prohibited from starting a game in the regular season, he likely would be ready if the Tribe makes the postseason.

Should the Indians win the second American League wild card spot, the one-game playoff to earn a place in the Division Series will be Oct. 2.

Inasmuch as the regular season ends Sept. 29, manager Terry Francona isn’t likely to have a full range of choices to start the play-in game.

If the rotation remains the same between now and the season finale, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister or Scott Kazmir probably will face the No. 1 wild card team, which right now is the Rangers. However, if Masterson is ready to resume his place in the rotation, he might be a choice.

This presumes that the race continues until virtually the last game of the regular schedule.

“”I would love to (juggle my rotation), but I don’t think that will happen,’’ said Francona, referring to the fact that the tight race is likely to continue.       

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